A good op ed from Idaho Rivers United-
Megaloads tread on Idaho values. By Kevin Lewis. Idaho Mountain Express.
Megaloads tread on Idaho values. By Kevin Lewis. Idaho Mountain Express.
We haven’t covered this for a while, but as many predicted the movement is not going smoothly.
1 megaload reaches Lolo; 1 stuck on Highway 12. By Jamie Kelly. Missoulian.
Snowy roads, traffic delay violations stall ConocoPhillips megaloads. By Kim Briggeman. Missoulian.
There is a rumor that future loads might be routed to use Interstate 90 and 15 which would present far fewer technical, congestion, and environmental problems. However, being an Interstate highway the loads would have to first be broken down to a much lower height because of the overpasses.
Crowds follow [first] megaload along U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho. By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian missoulian.com
Having lost before the Idaho Department of Transportation, opponents of the oil megaloads will no longer try to stop the first four of them. These are bound for the existing oil refinery in Billings, Montana. The next 200 megaloads (not approved for now) are for what many see as the tar sand pits from hell in Alberta, Canada.
Movement of the first four should reveal much about who is right about them? Will the loads have great difficulty getting up the highway and over Lolo Pass? Will there be an accident? Will they be safely parked during the day, or will they end up blocking traffic? Will the megaloads harm the highway surface or warp the bridges? Will the megaloads generate any local employment beyond a few people holding signs and public revenues going to pay for highway patrol escorts?
Idaho megaload opponents: Let big rigs roll to Billings. By Kim Briggeman of Missoulian. missoulian.com
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Feb. 1, 2011 update. As Megaloads Roll, What Two of Three Plaintiffs Learned About Opposition. New West (feature article). By Steve Bunk. New West has done an outstanding job covering the megaloads issue. This is their latest feature article.
I was particularly impressed with this quote in the article, “Referring to state troopers who accompany megaloads through Idaho, Laughy remarked, ‘I find it particularly interesting that our state could be contracting out our police to the South Korean government.’ ” I say it’s a good example what happens when we (the United States) are well on our way to being a colony of the corporations of other parts of the world (thanks to the work of people like provincial governor Butch Otter).
The megaloads for the Billings, MT oil refinery now have a go ahead from Idaho, and will probably get one quickly from Montana. Highway 12 itself has been slippery to very slippery except in its lower portion. Parts of it have also been briefly closed to reduced to one lane due to rockslides.
Idaho official signs off on Highway 12 megaload permits. By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian missoulian.com
It’s amazing to me that they think they can get approval by doing a mere environmental analysis report (EA) for over 200 megaloads on Montana’s highways.*
At any rate, University of Montana economist Steve Seninger and others showed the huge defect in the EA’s claim that the megaloads would give a $67.8 million benefit to Montana’s economy. There was no discussion of monetary and other costs. In other words, the EA writes of gross benefits, when it is net benefits (if there are any) that matters.
The costs are revenue losses in the travel/outdoor recreation industry, costs to taxpayers from accidents, traffic delays and disruptions of emergency services, premature wear of Montana’s highways and harm to wildlife, water, agriculture and timber in Western Montana.
In Idaho, Butch Otter, the Farm Bureau and others, and in Montana, a similar bunch of people speak of the job benefits, but “What you end up with is basically something less than 82 jobs for the ExxonMobil transportation project, and those jobs are primarily lower wage, lower skilled jobs in terms of flagholders and driving some of the advance cars and rear cars,”[economist] Seninger said. “In my mind, you don’t have to be an economist to say that’s really not an employment machine.”
The fact that these are low wage, low skill jobs to move sophisticated oil equipment from the far east to Alberta is why I have been calling them “jobs for peasants.”
Story: Imperial Oil/Exxon big rigs EA draws ire. By Kim Briggeman. The Missoulian.
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*To understand the controversy, folks need to mentally separate the first, 4 megaloads that are bound for the oil refinery in Billings, Montana from the 200+ bound for Alberta’s tar sand pits.
Foes of megaloads to continue fighting shipments. By Jessie L. Bonner. By the Associated Press in Bloomberg.
” ‘In some respects it would be nice to get the four loads off the table so we could talk about the real issues,’ said [Linwood] Laughy, who lives along the federal scenic byway in Kooskia, Idaho.”
Laughy is saying movement of the first 4, the only America- bound loads up Highway 12, will show how accurate the objections to and promises being made are.
Read the rest of the AP story in the Idaho Statesman. “Foes of megaloads to decide on path forward.”
Of course, the loads are still sitting in the port of Lewiston, ID and central Idaho is locked in deep winter. Weather, courts could stall Idaho megaloads. Dec 29, 2010. By The Associated Press.
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While the usual international corporation supporters back the megaloads, the major group opposing them is the Idaho-based public interest law firm, Advocates for the West.
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Earlier NYT story on local residents opposing megaloads. Oil Sands Effort Turns on a Fight Over a Road. By Tom Zeller
Boise attorney Merlyn Clark, hearing officer on the oil megaloads that will use U.S. Highway 12 across north central Idaho into Montana has ruled that the first 4 megaloads could be transported safely with “minimum inconvenience” up narrow U.S. Highway 12 to the Montana border (Lolo Pass).
These giant loads have been sitting at Idaho’s sea port of Lewiston for a month now. There is still some paperwork before their transport can begin, but little doubt we will see what actually happens as they take them up along the Clearwater and Lochsa River to the Bitterroot Divide and down into Montana. The first 4 loads are for the Billings, MT oil refinery, not the Alberta tar sand pits.
The usual groups, such as the Idaho Farm Bureau (how is this a farm issue?), have been promoting the idea that moving this equipment along Highway 12 at night will be some kind of boom for business, although no explanation how that will happen.
There will be a big difference between the transport of 4 megaloads versus the next 200 (which are not included in this hearing officer’s decision).
Idaho agency advised to issue megaload permits. By John Miller. The Associated Press (in Bloomberg).
Hearing officer does not issue a decision on the international oil company megaloads sitting at the Port of Lewiston, Idaho. Decision will be coming out at an undefined future date.
No ruling before Christmas on megaloads. Lewiston (ID) Tribune on-line
What a pleasant Thanksgiving surprise!
Hearing officer sides with foes of megaloads. By Todd Dvorak. Associated Press.
The much awaited hearing on giant oil machinery on Highway 12 was held today in Boise. It sounds like the Idaho Dept. of Transportation hearing officer will oil the way for the movement of the giant oil modules.
The hearing officer said he would only consider the first 4 modules, not the hundreds more to follow. The first 4 go to the Billings, Montana refinery, not Alberta’s tar sand pits.
The oil company said the plaintiffs, 4 citizens along Highway 12, lack standing to because they weren’t singled out — the transport won’t affect them to any greater extent than other citizens along the highway. Happily for Conoco, the hearing officer also said he would limit his review to whether foes have a right to get involved at this stage of the process.”
Oil company says foes lack standing in US 12 case. By Todd Dvorak. AP (from Business Week)
Boise Weekly has a story giving more of the color of the hearing. Overflow Hearing on Oversized Loads. By George Prentice.
This is important, and there is a story. Usually we don’t hear (read of) the really important stuff, and this is.
Idaho lobbyist to lead campaign for Conoco. AP in Magicvalley.com
Stung by grassroots opposition in North Idaho and Montana to turning U.S. Highway 12 into an industrial highway to haul oversized oil equipment to Canada, a so-called business group has been formed. If you go to their web site, it seems to be associated with the Farm Bureau and Chamber of Commerce (who reportedly funneled millions of foreign money in the recent congressional campaign). It would seem appropriate that they now do the bidding of international oil companies who don’t care one bit about the jobs and lives of the people in Idaho and Montana.
You can bet this group itself is no more than a P. O. Box, but from somewhere right now, and the near future, the resources will come to flood inboxes of newspapers, and the electronic media with propaganda of how the movement of all this giant machinery over many years is some great economic benefit to the natives who will watch it roll past, blocking their access to the highway.
Idaho business group backs plan to move oversized loads on U.S. Highway 12. By the Associated Press in missoulian.com
This is not an immediate go ahead for the oil companies to move up Highway 12, but hopes for a quick kill of the oil juggernaut are gone.
Update: I understand that this decision might allow the movement of 4 large coke drums up Highway 12. These are bound for Billings, not Alberta. Winter will soon be closing in, making movement soon before transportation becomes too difficult in the winter.
Idaho Court Tosses megaloads ruling. By JOHN MILLER – Associated Press.
Leading the fight against the international dirty oil consortium is the Idaho public interest law firm, Advocates for the West.
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There is a good update and analysis of the ruling in New West. Latest Ruling on Big Rigs and Highway 12 Not About Merits of the Case. The majority opinion for the Nov. 1 Idaho Supreme Court ruling cites jurisdiction questions in its overruling a lower-court decision in August that stopped the transport. By Steve Bunk, 11-02-10
The money for land and water acquisition has never been needed so much. The money comes from the oil companies, and they have been paying it for years. The only thing stopping its full authorized expenditure level has been Congress and/or the President who like to see the money just sit idle in the fund to make the federal deficit appear smaller.
Murkowski said wanted to protect the “mom and pop” oil companies from having to face large liabilities. Mom and pop oil companies?
If you can’t pay for your damages, you should not get a permit!
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Update May 18: Oklahoma Senator: Another Oil Company Whore
Inhofe Blocks Second Dem Attempt To Raise Oil Company Liability (VIDEO)
The oil companies and the President and McCain talk about the need for more leasing of your public lands to big oil, but big oil is appearently sitting on the leases it has.
Democrats Say Oil Companies Should Lose Leases They Don’t Use. By Susan Decker. Bloomberg.
Related. Drilling ban is a myth, figures show. By Ken Ward Jr. Staff writer. Charleston Gazette.